Weather outside is frightful; so’s the driving

OUT ON A LIMB: snow certainly does get people around here talking

For something that only occasionally makes an appearance, snow certainly does get people around here talking.

And the focus of the conversation is usually snowplowing – whose road got plowed, whose didn’t, and have you ever seen it so bad?

Funny thing is, the conditions that stress a lot of Campbell Riverites are tolerated each and every day, all winter by most Canadians.

This past week we’ve had a rare combination of conditions that saw a snowfall followed by lingering subzero temperatures.

Normally, we get snow and then it begins to melt almost immediately. It’s not often we see the snow stick around like it did this past weekend.

But sure enough, come Monday morning there in my inbox was an e-mail about somebody scolding the city for not plowing the roads.

Twenty-five years ago, I moved to Campbell River from Whitehorse, Yukon. The projected high for Whitehorse on Monday morning when I wrote this, was minus eight. That’s a temperature that gets Yukoners hailing the balmy conditions.

My point is, it ain’t that bad, folks. Those roads you saw in Campbell River with a combination of partially bare ruts and snow packed so hard it’s like ice, are every day conditions for Whitehorse drivers. As they are for Prince George, Edmonton…well, everywhere east of the Coast Mountains.

I understand if people are not used to it here and driving on it makes them nervous. That’s fine. Adjust your driving accordingly.

But when people start demanding their road be plowed as soon as the first snow flakes fall, well, it gets kind of embarrassing. It’s no wonder people look at British Columbians as just a little bit flaky, pardon the pun.

I always reflect on the words of previous Mirror publisher Jim Hayes, an Edmonton transplant, who advised a new hire to be wary, not of the road conditions, but of the other drivers who don’t know how to drive in snow.

It cracks me up to watch drivers pull up to a traffic light and then, when it turns green, stomp on the accelerator and go nowhere as their tires spin like a saw blade.

Take your time, accelerate slowly and allow your tires – yes, even your all-season radials – to grip the snow. It doesn’t take much to start them spinning.

Also, leave plenty of space between you and the next vehicle ahead so that if they hit their brakes, you won’t have to; you can brake slowly and that way your wheels won’t bind and send you into the ditch like you’re riding on rubber skis.

The key word is slowly. Give yourself more time. Drive slower. Take your time. Try to relax.

Just think, “A Manitoban can do this, so can I.”

But most of all, I’d like you all to just stop panicking. Everybody else is laughing. Canada, my country is winter, a writer once said.

Well, not on this thin strip of waterlogged forest in the far west.


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